As the fallout of Margaret Court’s recent honour continues, reports suggest that the tennis great received the Companion of the Order of Australia because it was believed she deserved the same recognition as the country’s greatest ever male tennis player, Rod Laver.
Over the years, I’ve taken a lot, and I think I’ve been bullied in one way, and I think, you know, it’s time to stop. A lot of things were said, which I never really said, which I think was the sad part. Always remember I’m a minister of the gospel and have been for the last 30 years, I always say what the Bible says. Margaret Court
Laver was awarded the Companion of the Order of Australia in 2016 and Nine newspapers report the decision to hand the same honour to Court, who has sparked controversy with her views on homosexuality, was made because she deserved to stand on equal footing with the man known as ‘Rocket’.
Members of the Council for the Order of Australia told The Age and Sydney Morning Herald that although a backlash to the announcement was expected, Court’s achievements in tennis convinced them she merited the same recognition as Laver, and her controversial views should not preclude her from that.
Court holds the all-time record for most Grand Slam singles titles with 24, while Laver won 11 majors, including all 4 in a calendar year twice, the only player to achieve such a feat.
The decision to honour Court was criticised by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews last week, who said her vocal opposition to same-sex marriage and support of gay conversion therapy should exclude her from receiving the award.
Court hit back at the criticism, saying the honour was for her greatness as a tennis player and ‘was a long time coming’.
She became a divisive figure for her outspoken views on homosexuality, conversion therapy, same-sex marriage and transgender people, and there have been repeated calls for Tennis Australia to distance itself from her, along with a campaign to rename Margaret Court Arena at Melbourne Park.
Court revealed she has not been invited to this year’s Australian Open and on the weekend the tennis legend claimed she has been unfairly bullied for her beliefs, calling on her outspoken critics to back down.
“Over the years, I’ve taken a lot, and I think I’ve been bullied in one way, and I think, you know, it’s time to stop,” Court old 3AW’s Neil Mitchell on Tuesday.
“A lot of things were said, which I never really said, which I think was the sad part.
“Always remember I’m a minister of the gospel and have been for the last 30 years, I always say what the Bible says.
“I love people, people come in from all backgrounds, I’m there to help, I’m not there to put people down in that way but I’ll always say what the Bible says.
“I’ve been bullied a lot in the last few years, and I don’t mind. That’s alright. But if I say anything, then [they say] I’m a bigot and I’m everything else, and I don’t like that.”